A 45-year-old woman recently started working as a traffic controller. Within six months of working long hours, neglecting her diet, and not exercising, this woman has a blood pressure reading of 145/97 and BMI of 29.
Explain whether the blood pressure reading is normal and what condition this woman has. List three possible factors that may lead to a blood pressure reading of 145/97.
This woman has hypertension. For years the American Heart Association stated that a normal blood pressure was 120/80 mmHg. That has now been changed to 119/79 mmHg. You mention that this lady has been working long hours, neglecting her diet, and not exercising.
Working long hours will bring about physical and psychological stress. This added stressor will raise the blood pressure because when the body is under stress the adrenal glands secrete epinephrine--a vasoconstrictor which raises blood pressure.
A lack of exercise will also raise the blood pressure. Proper cardiovascular exercise increases cardiovascular tone which helps to decrease the blood pressure.
Diet also plays a role in hypertension, especially if the diet is high in sodium.
Optimal blood pressure is below 120/80. Therefore, a blood pressure reading of 145/97 is somewhat elevated and would be classified as mild hypertension (or moderately high blood pressure). The factors that are probably contributing to this woman's above-normal reading are implied in the question. She is working a high stress job, her diet is poor, and she does not get enough exercise. In addition, her BMI of 29 indicates that she is overweight.
Any of these factors could cause an elevation in blood pressure, but taken together they are a bad combination and may lead to even higher blood pressure down the road if she continues down this path.